The need for closed captioning

need for closed captioning

Cast your mind back to the time when TV shows, university lectures, and other videos were meant only for those who could understand the language and had a good ear. With a growing number of media houses, and universities globalizing their presence, the need to understand such visual assets gained prominence. Dictations being deciphered at ease without any audio aids and an accuracy rate of more than 99%, would be of great use to people who don’t understand the language or are hard of hearing.

Closed Captioning has transformed the lives of many, giving them the full ability to understand what is being said as the transcribed dialog gets displayed on the screen. They provide viewers the choice to view, helping people in a variety of situations. Closed captions have been in vogue since the 70s. From being a necessity for the hearing impaired, it slowly graduated to becoming a tool to promote reading comprehension, learn a new language, and enthrall a lot of TV viewers. It has now become so common amongst TV viewers to not turn off captioning when watching TV or a movie in Netflix.

Closed captioning, differs from other forms of captioning like open captions, subtitling and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing or SDH, as they, unlike the other two, give the viewers an option to switch them off when not required. Based on requirements, captioning can essentially be classified into two types: pop-on, and roll-up.


One or two lines of captions which appear on screen and remain visible for a few seconds before they disappear are what are termed as pop-on captions. This could result in a few frames in the video not being captioned at all.


These are synchronized word-by-word captions. Every sentence displayed “rolls up” to about two to three lines. As the content grows, the top line disappears, leading to a new bottom line rolling up. There is also a format in which, instead of captions rolling, text gets painted from the left hand corner of the screen to the right resulting in no words or frames being missed.

Apart from being a legal requirement, the obligation for closed captions has been on the rise and is now a growing industry.